On Wednesday, May 29, a construction crew working somewhere on US 17 south of Charleston, SC severed a fiber optic cable that served as a Comcast connection (but not a Comcast owned line). Luckily, Comcast - because of its franchise agreement with the City and County of Charleston - had a redundant line available and there was absolutely no interruption to internet and (more importantly) phone service.
Residential customers were without the ability to call 911. But, since this is both Charleston and there is the assumption that everyone in the world has a cell phone now, no one cares whether or not your grandmother was able to call 911 during the outage. No, we are only interested in how this affected the Business Community.
And, to be honest, I have to say I can feel for them on this one. This affected a lot of companies in the area who bought into the “bundling” myth that the telecoms have been pushing for a decade or so - but it also has a lot to do with the greater Libertarian Myth of deregulation and “competition”.
What I think is amusing is the number of people being interviewed who “want answers” or feel they are “owed an explanation”.
Well, you probably aren’t. Once upon a time, though, you would be - in fact, an outage like this would likely have placed a cable provider in jeopardy of losing its right to do business in the area.
But that was long ago, when there were no nationwide cable providers and when local governments entered into franchise agreements with local providers. Those days are long gone, thanks to (surprise) deregulation of the entire telecommunications industry that has A) allowed the insane “this one’s ours, let’s take another” model of corporate acquisition to thrive and, B) moved the franchise model from local authorities to state ones.
And it’s that second point that makes it difficult for a single locality to “demand answers” from their CATV provider in the event of a serious problem. Whereas you could once round up a few people and place an item on the city or county council agenda, now you’d have to file that with the state. Good luck.
If you follow that link, you’ll note that the pursuant law is called the “South Carolina Competitive Cable Services Act” and I will give you one guess who wrote it and lobbied for its passage (hint: the cable companies).
See, this is the funny thing about how badly the “Libertarian” fantasy about letting businesses be “free” works. When you remove the power of control over how businesses operate from the people and hand it over to the businesses and when you allow the businesses to operate as monopolies under the auspice of “competition”, you are essentially undermining all of the supposed aspects of the free market you claim to love.
The free market cannot exist without proper checks and balances that give the consumer as equal a footing as the company in the game. But “Libertarians” don’t actually believe in the “free market”, they only believe in the freedom of the mythical corporate person uber alles.
So, remember kids, Big Government is Bad but Big Business is Good. Hierarchical power structures are fine, as long as they exist to create profit for the “Libertarians” who claim they are interested in your “freedom”.
Stop believing the hype, folks.
Is this thing on?
I’ve been neglecting my tumblr of late. Maybe because of the new editor they slapped up in here. Maybe because of my other writing gig. Maybe because only one person has yet bothered to actually use the paypal link at the top.
Maybe all of those things.
Or, maybe it’s just more fun to continue using twitter and various local and national news sites to spread chaos and mayhem. I don’t know.
At any rate, it’s helping me write a book. Sort of. I’d tell you more, but it would just jinx the whole darn thing.
Today’s editorial in the Charleston Post and Courier, “The ‘kill list’ conundrum”, is not only a grotesque oversimplification of the issues of both the use of drones by the American government against “terrorists” and the larger problems of the policy, but it is also just grotesque.
Grotesque in that it completely glosses over the inherent contradiction of our drone policy as a continued response to the 2001 attacks on America’s military and financial centers that offered a pretext for a decade-long “war” on “terror”. Grotesque in that it simply does not have any self-awareness that our own policy of drone strikes against “enemy combatants” is itself an act of terror against the very people we hope to save with democracy.
It is inexcusable for any rational or thoughtful person to be unable to see that there is no difference between our drone strikes and “their” terrorism. Simply put, we are allowing ourselves to behave in the same “barbaric” manner as those to whom we claim to be better.
Let us put aside all the semantic arguments about these strikes. That drone strikes are not the surgical, pinpoint, accurate measures they are made out to be (if they were, the Obama Administration would not have needed to expand the definition of “enemy combatant” to “anyone within twenty feet of the target”, as they did last year in an effort to reduce the number of civilian casualties associated with these attacks); that they should not be used against American citizens; that they are counter-productive, as they lead to increased anti-American sentiment where ever they are employed. These are all valid criticisms, but they miss the first and most essential point.
They are wrong, not just morally, but in the greater context of what America is supposed to want for itself and the world. Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had made his “I Have a Dream” speech while brandishing a shotgun. Imagine if Gandhi had made pleas for the release of his people from British rule while executing British officials. Imagine if Jesus had talked about the Kingdom of Heaven while running through the Roman officials of the day with a lance. Yet, this is what America does: we talk about peace, freedom, and democracy while we are simultaneously engaging in bombing runs in countries with who we are not even at war.
It is shameful, and it is even more shameful that the editorial board of the Post and Courier supports such nonsense. That they offer such limited and paltry statements in support of the policy is testament to how specious a policy it is, and how little it actually deserves this support.
Now, to dig a little deeper:
“And killing terrorists who present a clear and present danger to Americans is a practical and necessary way to enhance our national defense.”
The catch here is in proving that the targets on Mr. Obama’s kill list are a “clear and present danger”. There is simply no process in place to do that. Instead, there is a list – which we are not privy to – and the President picks a name off the list and that is that. We are supposed to accept that this person is a clear and present danger, with little or no oversight. That does not sound like the actions of a civilized democracy. It is the action of a child, smashing a spider before even looking to see if it is poisonous – out of either fear or sheer maliciousness.
“Still, many conservatives, and even a few liberals, detect a double standard by the left — and most of the mainstream media — in their generally tame reaction to President Barack Obama’s inclusion of U.S. citizens on his terrorist ‘kill list.’”
By “many” conservatives, they largely mean the Ron Paul wing of the GOP and Joe Scarborough. By a “few” liberals, they mean almost anyone who is to the left of themselves, and by the “mainstream media” they mean, “everyone but us” – because, after all, they do not have the double standard. They are OK with extralegal murder.
Instead of being honest about this, though, the editorial moves on to this bizarre non-sequiter:
“Mr. Obama was among many on the left (and a few on the right) who condemned President Bush for approving, among other counter-terror techniques, the waterboarding of terror detainees. Though waterboarding is a cruel process of ‘enhanced interrogation’ (some folks call it ‘torture’), it is hardly ever fatal.”
I suspect this is thrown in to help make the word count, as I cannot see at all how it is related to the rest of the editorial, except in that it paints the President as a weak-kneed waffler on the topic of anti-terrorism, which is a neat trick considering how the Post and Courier is going to support the President throughout the rest of its editorial. Well played, editors. Well played.
Also well played is mentioning the “legal justification” for American drone strikes without actually talking about what that justification entails. If you do not trust your readers to make a judgment about the Obama Administration’s tortured logic, then maybe you should not even mention it. Nor should you mention the fact that drone strikes are not precise:
“Too bad our drone strikes aren’t even more precise. According to The New York Times, some of the at least 24 people already killed by U.S. drone attacks in Yemen this year were not terrorists.”
No, it is “too bad” that you are not going to let this lead you to the conclusion that the strikes themselves are abhorrent. Instead, you’re going to just say, “too bad” in the same way that it was “too bad” that American POWs were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with Japanese civilians by the thousands. Just as it was “too bad” that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis died over the last two decades of American occupation and sanctions against their leaders. I suppose the editors of the Post and Courier subscribe to Madeline Albright’s chilling assessment, “We think the price is worth it” when discussing the deaths of innocent people in the pursuit of some “greater good”. Of course, the media largely ignored that, as well.
The editorial moves away from this unfortunate problem in its own logic by helpfully pointing out that these drone strikes really are America’s only logical defense against terrorists. Any civilized notions of detaining and trying “terrorists” is apparently beyond the pale. After all, that is what the Obama Administration wanted to do early on in its first term and:
“That absurd notion was dropped after prominent New York politicians, including Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, rightly protested.”
Absurd in what way? Rightly how? I understand that the daily newspaper aims to write for a low reading level, but this sort of absolute declaration demands a more in-depth explanation. Of course, it could be that there simply is no explanation for statements that have absolutely no basis in anything other than a draconian revenge fantasy.
Not only that, but the editorial finishes up with an even more stunningly oblivious statement:
“…Sen. McCain…backs drone strikes against terrorists (including U.S. citizens) — and opposes ‘encroachment’ on the commander in chief’s ability to permanently neutralize our nation’s terrorist enemies.
We agree, despite the persisting risk of ‘collateral damage’ that fuels anti-American resentments.
Fighting terror inevitably requires killing terrorists — including U.S. citizens who have made the increasingly fatal mistake of joining our barbaric foes’ ranks.“
Again, barbarism is in the eye of the beholder. To us, the barbarism began and ended in September 2001 – for the people of the Middle East (and an increasing number of other countries), that barbarism continues today.
It is difficult to imagine how the Post and Courier can support a policy as laboriously and furiously asinine as America’s drone policy. It is equally difficult to imagine how supposedly rational, intelligent people in positions of power in America can not only support the policy, but actively endorse it – and, yes, it is completely unimaginable that a policy that allows the extralegal assassination of American citizens, even those actively supporting or fighting with “the enemy”, is given a free pass in most of the American media.
Then again, considering the amount of time, money, and energy spent by the media donning its short skirts and pom-poms in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, perhaps that last part is not so difficult to imagine. In fact, they are doing it again today over North Korea, much as they focused on Iran last month. But that is a different topic altogether.
Tumblr on my phone! A brand new way to be unproductive with this blog!!!!!